Budget Bills Advance First Round of Approval

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LINCOLN, Neb.-- New funding for Nebraska property tax relief, water projects and state park renovations has cleared a key vote in the Legislature.

Lawmakers gave the state budget bill first-round approval on Tuesday with a 37-2 vote.

The vote came after some lawmakers tried unsuccessfully to remove individual spending items, including $2.5 million for bronze fountains at the Capitol and $60,000 in state membership dues for the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Compact.

The measure that won initial approval includes a $25 million annual increase in Nebraska's property tax credit program, $17.5 million for deferred park maintenance and $32 million for water projects by the middle of next year.

But these bills didn't come with some drama. Sen. Bill Kitner from Papillion wanted to vote on each item of the budget instead of voting on the whole bill together. This caused quite a stir on the legislative floor.

"Let's just vote on each one. That way they can stand on their own merit or fall on their own merit," said Sen. Kitner.

"Should it be divided? Absolutely not," said Sen. Russ Karpisek.

"To say that these don't all have to go together because they have to deal with the spending of money, well then is everything with an A bill germane to everything else?," said Sen. Scott Lautenbaugh.

"We have an opportunity to ban together to protect our institution and to reject this short sided attempt," said Sen. Danielle Conrad.

Again, this is just the first round of approval. Senators will have plenty of time to add amendments to these mega bills.

The bills are LB905, LB 906, LB 130.